What Does Planned Obsolescence Mean?

Planned obsolescence means "Designing a Product So It Will Become Obsolete After an Artificially Short Period."


image for Planned Obsolescence, with the word discontinued

Planned obsolescence is a business strategy where a product is deliberately designed to have a limited useful life or to become outdated or non-functional after a certain period. This approach encourages consumers to purchase new products or upgrades, thereby driving repeat business for manufacturers.


There are several key aspects and examples of planned obsolescence:
  • Technological Obsolescence: Products may become outdated as newer models with advanced features and capabilities are released. This is common in the electronics industry, where rapid technological advancements can make older devices feel inadequate.
  • Functional Obsolescence: A product might be designed to last for only a certain number of uses or a specific period before it fails or its performance significantly degrades. For example, a printer might be designed to lock after a certain number of prints.
  • Style Obsolescence: Fashion and design changes can render a product unfashionable or out of style, prompting consumers to replace it with something that is in vogue, even if the original product is still functional.
  • Compatibility Obsolescence: A product could become obsolete if new products or systems are designed in a way that they no longer work with older models. This is often seen in software, where new versions may not support older hardware or files.
  • Perceived Obsolescence: Manufacturers may market new products in a way that makes existing products seem less desirable or outdated, even if they still work perfectly well. This can create a demand for new items based solely on the desire to have the latest version.


Planned obsolescence has been a subject of criticism and debate, as it can lead to increased waste, environmental damage, and financial pressure on consumers to continuously replace products. Critics argue that it encourages a culture of disposability and unnecessary consumption, while proponents may claim it drives innovation and technological advancement. Efforts to combat planned obsolescence include legislation in some countries to protect consumers and encourage more sustainable product designs.

Image for Planned Obsolescence

When I write Planned Obsolescence, I mean this:

meaning of Planned Obsolescence

Planned obsolescence has been a topic of discussion and controversy for many years.

Summary of Key Points

"Designing a Product So It Will Become Obsolete After an Artificially Short Period" is the most common definition for Planned Obsolescence on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Planned Obsolescence
Definition:Designing a Product So It Will Become Obsolete After an Artificially Short Period
Guessability:guessability level 2

2: Quite easy to guess

Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

An Academic Look at Planned Obsolescence

vector image of a teacher to illustrate an academic look at Planned Obsolescence

"Planned obsolescence" is a noun phrase. It consists of an adjective "planned" modifying the noun "obsolescence." Noun phrases are grammatical units containing a noun and its modifiers, which can include adjectives, determiners, and prepositional phrases, providing additional information about the noun, such as quantity, quality, or identity.

Example of Planned Obsolescence Used in a Text

Planned Obsolescence
author logo

This page is maintained by the Cyber Definitions Editorial Team.

Help Us Improve Cyber Definitions

  • Do you disagree with something on this page?
  • Did you spot a typo?
  • Do you know a slang term that we've missed?
Please tell us using this form.


Try our fun quiz to test your knowledge of slang and texting abbreviations.
gold cup

gold cup

gold cup

  • This test has questions.
  • A correct answer is worth 5 points.
  • You can get up to 5 bonus points for a speedy answer.
  • Some questions demand more than one answer. You must get every part right.
  • Beware! Wrong answers score 0 points.
  • 🏆 If you beat one of the top 3 scores, you will be invited to apply for the Hall of Fame.
Scoring System

Cyber Guru (+)
Cyber Hero (+)
Cyber Captain (+)
Cyber Sergeant (+)
Cyber Recruit (+)